Restaurant in profit despite recession

One of the country’s best-known restaurants, led by celebrity chef Derry Clarke and his wife Sallyanne, continues to trade profitably through the recession.

New accounts lodged by the Dublin restaurant’s Sudberry Trading Ltd confirm that the Michelin-starred L’Ecrivain recorded a cash profit for the second successive year last year. Mr and Mrs Clarke confirmed yesterday that the 2012 performance will be similar to last year.

The couple established the restaurant on Dublin’s Lower Baggot St 23 years ago. They said yesterday that they “are satisfied” with the performance of the company, which shows a cash profit of €78,309 after depreciation in the 12 months to the end of August last. The Clarkes said revenues took a 6% dip last year.

The 2011 cash profit after depreciation followed the business recording a cash profit of €238,573 after depreciation in 2010.

The Clarkes said yesterday that they are happy with how the business is going in the current year, stating: “It is hard work, but the business is well established and has a good reputation.”

They said that during last year, “we worked hard to bring in new customers, control costs and at the same time maintain the standards required of a Michelin star restaurant”.

“Turnover declined by approximately 6% between 2010 and 2011. Everyone is working harder to meet customer expectations. We are doing a lot of special offers and deals which do bring in new clients but the margins are very much tighter than previously.”

On the current year, the couple said: “Business in general is still difficult and it is hard to predict trends.

“People are generally eating out less, but when they do, they want a special experience which they can get here at L’Ecrivain.

“We anticipate maintaining similar results in 2012 to what was achieved in 2011. The most important thing for us is to protect the business and keep things going so that we can benefit from the upturn in business when it comes, which it will.”

“Our number of customers is up on 2011, but the average spend per customer is lower than in previous years.”

“There is a high level of competition in the industry and managing cashflow in the current environment is a challenge.”

The accounts show accumulated losses totalling €666,601.

However, the owners state that non-cash depreciation costs is the reason behind the accumulated losses, with cumulative depreciation totalling €1.5m.

L’Ecrivain is one of only six restaurants in the country to attain a Michelin star — Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin’s Merrion Square remains Ireland’s only two-star restaurant.

The business currently employs 31 people.

The Clarkes state that maintaining a Michelin star standard for the restaurant has given them great satisfaction.

“We have invested significantly in the business both financially and creatively and achieving Michelin star standards was a great reward for our efforts and those of our employees.”


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